TBT: Jealousy is Toxic, Honesty is Good and other things I’ve learned in (almost) 55 years

Going through our archives, we came across this great post from Dr. AnnMaria De Mars. This blog was originally posted on June 7, 2013 on “Jealousy is Toxic, Honesty is Good and other things I’ve learned in (almost) 55 years” that we wanted to share with you in case you missed it the first time around. 


Five more things I have learned in almost 55 years.

  1. Jealousy is bad for you.
  2. Scrupulous honesty about your motives will pay off.
  3. Much negative criticism stems from jealousy.
  4. Yes, employers ARE right to turn you down because you are over-qualified.
  5. Don’t take it personally but DO take it seriously.

I am on a roll today, no?

Jealousy is bad for you.

By this age, I’ve had the unenviable experience of many vicious comments, spoken behind my back, in email and on-line (although almost never to my face). I’m the first to admit that I live so far from perfect we don’t even have a passing acquaintance. Still, what’s it to you? I’m certainly not in a unique position here.

I’ve seen people go so far as to track the times their colleagues came into the office, when they left, how long they spent for lunch and question everything from their expense accounts to salaries to paid time off.  When I see someone repeatedly running down a co-worker or  supervisor. I wonder why.  The common thread I’ve noticed is jealousy – Suzy has a job, salary or reputation that they don’t.

Take it from me, running to upper management or the board with their “concerns” is not helping you. Your argument that you are “only concerned about what’s best for the organization” is not fooling anyone. If you left two hours early yesterday, then complained that Suzy came in an hour late today, it’s pretty evident that you only want to “get Suzy”. Do you really think that no one noticed you left early? Complaining about Suzy just makes you look like a hypocrite. It WILL get back to Suzy, and how likely do you think she is to lift a finger to help you in the future? Your co-workers are going to trust you less because they expect you’ll do the same to them.  When you leave your position, odds are good that supervisor you complained to (or about!) will subtly let others know that you are difficult to work with, making it harder for you to find a new position.

Even if you are not so crazy, it reflects poorly on you. For example, I do not do mornings and before I agree to work with anyone we have an understanding that if I’m in the office before 9 a.m., it had better be REALLY important. On the other hand, I’m working past 10 pm on a regular basis. I never miss a deadline. But I still don’t do mornings.

I’ve been in a few situations where someone has gone to the powers-that-be to “let them know” that I didn’t come in until 10 a.m., well, ever. In every case, since upper management had already agreed to those hours, it reflected badly on the person complaining. Their boss would be offended that Complainer was criticizing an arrangement that he or she had made with me, since it seemed to be questioning the boss’s judgement. It also was clear that Complainer hadn’t mentioned any concern to me – setting him/her up as a person who doesn’t  try to solve problems but just does running to the boss.




Be Honest about Your Motives

Before you get to the point of  climbing under a desk and short-circuiting Suzy’s computer, ask yourself what this is all about, because, believe me, your colleagues are asking that question already.

Is it REALLY because you are so concerned about whether the company is over-paying for Suzy to have three meals a day on her per diem when she did not leave on her trip until 11 am, so she should rightfully only get breakfast? Really? That was the biggest problem that needed your attention at work today?

If your motive is to get Suzy fired so that you can get her job, it’s probably not going to work. Even if it did,  you might forget that you had booby-trapped her computer and die an agonizing fiery death your first day on the job.


You don’t want this, do you?

Even if Suzy gets fired, there is no guarantee you’re going to get her job. Why should you, really? Does she really suck totally at her work? If so, she’ll probably get laid off or fired eventually anyway. If she doesn’t have as much education or experience or, let’s face it, intelligence as you, is that sufficient reason to fire her and give the job to you? From your perspective that might seem fair, but that’s not the way  the world works, because if it did, we’d have a never-ending cycle of firing and promotions. There are actually several very good reasons to keep people in a job even if you can get someone “more qualified”. Yes, employers are correct to not hire people who are “over-qualified” and replace the less qualified people who are working for them. That is a post for another day, since I have to head to the airport in a minute.

Being honest about your motives is going to make you a better person with a better life in all areas. Here is a non-business story but I think it relates.

Many years ago, my daughter was competing in judo. She had a back and forth rivalry with another child. I could not stand this kid’s coach. About the same time, Ronda was going through a growth spurt and it was difficult for her to stay in the weight division, but she was also getting much, much better. When signing her up for the next tournament, someone made a comment that we (the coaches) were just using our children to get back at one another. Now, this comment came from one of the most odious people you’d ever meet, who made a hobby of saying hateful things to people – which didn’t make him any less right in this instance. I moved Ronda up a weight division over her complaints (“I can beat her, Mom!” “Yes, I’m sure you can, but you’re not in the same division any more.”) It was the right decision, even if the person was being snidely critical, he was correct.

Ronda went on to do well in judo and now mixed martial arts and I have no idea where  the other kid is now, nor her coach.

Whether it is on your coaching style, your research design or your code, people often do criticize you because they are just plain jealous and want to hurt you. That doesn’t mean they never have a point. If the criticism is correct, fix what you can and go on with life as they go to hating on other people.

Jealousy is bad for you but it may actually pay off for the people you are jealous and critical of if they have the right attitude.

Funny how that works.

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